Since 2015, we have been working with colleagues at Cornwall Council on a project Biodiversity, Health and Wellbeing in Cornwall’s Public Open Space, instigated by the Council’s ecology and public open spaces teams. The idea behind this work has been to use our research on these topics to help inform how Cornwall’s public open spaces are managed and invested in, for the benefit of both biodiversity and people’s health and wellbeing. We’ve undertaken various collaborative activities with the support of funding from the University of Exeter’s ESRC Impact Acceleration Account.
Working together, we have built a network involving various Council staff and researchers from social and natural sciences at Exeter, particularly from the European Centre for Environment and Human Health and the Environment and Sustainability Institute. We’ve undertaken a range of activities, and recently completed a set of ‘evidence report cards’, which we are publishing together here on the blog.
The evidence report cards bring together the most recent social and natural science research from the University of Exeter and elsewhere in summary format, with the aim of helping to inform the planning and management of public open space in Cornwall and beyond:
- Card 1 – Natural environments and human health: an overview summarises some of the key evidence on how green/blue spaces can benefit human health and wellbeing
- Card 2 – Promoting green space access focuses on preconditions for green space access, examining actual and perceived barriers to accessing and engaging with such settings
- Card 3 – Designing for green space sustainability is on how to enhance the economic, social and ecological sustainability of green spaces in ways deemed acceptable to local communities, including existing and future users
- Card 4 – Enriching experience through green space design brings together evidence on the experiences sought out in diverse green spaces, and opportunities to promote such experiences through designing for the senses, connection and achievement
The Resource List accompanying the cards includes references and web links from the series.
We’ve also worked with the Health and Environment Public Engagement group to look at how communities are engaged in the way that their green and blue spaces are managed.
Looking to the future, Cornwall Council have recently been awarded European Regional Development Funds for a project called ‘Green Infrastructure for Growth’, investing in public recreational areas, roadside verges and old churchyards to make them better places for people and for wildlife. Our collaboration will continue, and existing and new research should help to ensure that we make the most of the opportunities afforded by our immensely valuable public open spaces.
We hope that the evidence report cards will prove useful for other organisations, policy and practice outside of Cornwall. We’d love to hear any feedback, and if you want to make use of them please feel free to contact Ben Wheeler at firstname.lastname@example.org